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May 20, 2017
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Hi everyone! I just created my first local business website and would love a quick look through the site and let me know if I did a decent job of things. I feel like I have read and picked up a lot of things that needed to be included and revamped the website to adhere to these best practices.

The original site they had was from ProSites which basically just used the same content for all the pages and they had major issues with SEO etc.

I am in the process of doing articles for the blog to slowly start building up content for the site and help the organic growth of it. I have been cleaning up all of the issues with their NAP in GMB and other places because they were all messed up. We had 3 different listings in GMB that I finally got merged just to name one problem. I have been cleaning up some citations that I could via their own sites and claim them. I am looking at using BrightLocal to do the rest that I can't as my next steps.

I am trying to get things done well so I can start doing adwords from them. Thank you for taking the time in advance to look this over and give me a quick review by experts.
That's a solid first site, looking good. Good job on the details too, looks like you managed to dot most the i's and cross the t's. Obviously you aren't going to get a super complete answer when asking for a quick-lookover for free on a forum (an actual audit for clients usually takes me 3~5 hours depending on the client) but I'd be happy to take a quick look and see if anything jumps out.

The biggest thing I'm seeing, the title tags are really long. I believe Google currently displays page titles up to 600 pixels wide, in practice you've got around 65 characters, give or take one or two. The goal is usually to have pages optimized for different keywords as well, there's no point in sticking the same primary keyword in every single title tag. You can give yourself a lot more room by just repeating the business name on every page, and using the extra space to write something that'll convert. If you're doing adwords for a client, you can use winning ads to revamp any high impression low CTR pages you spot in google search console when you get to that point.

You've got a 'call us today' with a phone number up at the top of the mobile site, that's good. You can't actually click to call though, that should be fixed.

Looks like you used the Google Maps API to put together a special map. I'm not convinced that having a map connected with the GMB listing helps with rankings a ton outside of cases where Google would otherwise get confused as to which business your site's representing, but I still think it's worth considering if just because it gives an easy way on-site for customers to look up driving directions. The only real downside of using a linked GMB map embed, is that nearby competitors sometimes show up along with your own business.

Everything I else I looked at looks good, except for the page load speed. I was pinging between 4~6 seconds from a Texan test server. looks like the site's set up with speed in mind, so you might struggle getting that under 2s, but load speed does make a difference on bounce rate and conversion percentages, and (by extension) ranking. If you can, see if you can clean that up a bit.

The one thing you didn't mention was backlinks. It's a brand new site so it'll be a while before you start seeing results, but if you don't have a plan to get some high quality backlinks pointing to the site, you're going to have a tough time. I know it's the hardest part of things when it comes to industries like dentists, but it's necesary. Citations are good and all, but they don't move the needle like they used to. (Bright Local's a good pick for citations you can't do manually by the way, they're who I use now). When you do start to get some authority, remember internal linking can be a good tool for boosting internal pages too.

How old was the old site? Was it on the same domain? The old site might have been poorly set up, but if it's on a different domain and had links pointing to it, it'd be worth holding onto the domain if possible and passing that along.

Good job on the first site, this is a really solid place to be starting from.
Thank you very much for the praise and kind words about the site and my current work.

Thank you so much for taking the time to really give me a good analysis quickly James. I know everyones time is valuable here and I didn't expect a detailed audit by any means so I appreciate the time you took to get pretty detailed actually.

I think I will go ahead and start cleaning up the title tags as you mentioned. So are you recommending not having the business name and stuff which is the default at the end becuase it's too long?

In terms of the call us now, it seems to be a click to call button on my iPhone. I was able to actually click it and it brings up the call stuff so maybe it's not optimized for all phones? I'll have to check that one.

I have been constantly working on the speed and host with SiteGround which I have been very happy with. The client wanted the middle tier server not the faster and higher ones so in terms of that speed I'm of course bottle necked. I have been trying to clean up the pages and get everything optimized. I am usually in the 88/100 or higher on google page speed checks and I keep trying to get higher.

I do know that the back link game is going to be key and will take a lot of work and I have to discuss with them a cost for that becuase right now they are only paying for certain Local SEO stuff like citation clean up etc. I will have to do some searches to learn some more about local seo link building, unless you know some resources you could recommend.

The domain is the same name and was registered only in January so they are very behind on the whole website game. So this is a ground up project for me which has been great because it has allowed me to learn along the way.
I'm happy to help, no sweat. I wasn't begrudging the help either with my comment when saying what's involved, I was more excusing myself if there's anything I missed. Hope it didn't come across as terse. After seeing your score on Google page speed, and seeing the waterfall chart and so on, I suspect the server's playing a fair roll too. But, all you can do is inform the client of their options and let them choose how to invest in their business.

If, as a little side project, you were curious just how much of a difference the host makes, it's easy to check. Get a month of the the higher level (or a month from another host like A2 or dreamhost) migrate the site to the other server, use your host file to get your computer to go to the new IP when you look up that domain name, and see how fast it loads. You'll need to use a browser speed testing plugin of course, since any external speed test would still be pulling from the old server, but it'd at least give you a real good sense of just how big a difference the server can make. If you haven't done that before, it can be an illustrative little experiment.

Local backlink building is an interesting topic. I don't know if I'd say that it's the hardest part to learn (some of the esoteric, specialized GMB tricks someone like Joy knows are a lot harder to come by) but it's still pretty complicated. It tends to require a lot more interaction with actual people, it's not just a tech thing you can do. It's more like PR in a lot of ways. Phil Rozek wrote a killer questionnaire for this, it's a great place to start. This guide can give some great ideas too.

Honestly though, one of the best things you can do to start educating yourself is to look under the hood of a few competitors. Get the 7 day trial at ahrefs, pick the top dentist or two in your client's city, and another few more from the top of the heap in high competition cities (Chicago, Philadelphia, etc). Pull the list of backlinks, filter out nofollows, cull anything under 40 domain authority, and spend a couple hours getting a sense of what's working for people. There's a lot of tools you could use to organize and compare the different lists, but just going through by hand for a few hours is worth it too to get a more direct feel for what's there. I mostly work with wedding vendors, and in that industry, a full quarter or third of all the top vendor's backlink mix are attribution links from weddings that have been featured in different bridal publications. If you're a photographer especially, you don't have to look too long to realize you'd be missing out to not put that front and center as a priority. In other industries you might see a lot of expert interviews, weird spam rings, blog comments, non profit donation links, churches, all kinds of things. Every industry is going to have different patterns and promising avenues, and every city is going to have its different opportunities.

If you see some interesting backlink opportunities, but you're not sure if it'd be a spammy link or not, ask: "Is someone ever going to click this link and become a customer for my client?". I personally believe we're only a year or two out from a literal revolution in how clever Google is at spotting artificial tricks and 'authentic' vs 'spammy' backlinks. There's some absolutely incredible AI advancements going on at Google right now, and as soon as they start applying some of it to spam recognition instead of high scores in Go and Pacman, I truly believe we're going to see the effectiveness of most forms of backlink spam all but disappear. The genuine links though, that actually signal real-life authority and connection to the local community, I suspect they'll always have a lot of weight.
Hi James,

Sorry if it came off incorrectly, but I was in no way thinking you came off in any type of way. I was just wanting to say that I didn't want to bother anyone or take too much of anyones time up because I know it's valuable and I am new to this forum as well. Don't want people thinking I am just here to leach haha.

I great appreciate all the detailed information and advice you have given me so far because you really didn't have to go that far in depth and take it to that level and it's greatly appreciated.

I was definitely looking into Ahrefs or SEM rush to get some information on my competitors and help locate some places for some links.
Great, glad you found it helpful! The last time I checked, Ahrefs seemed to pull a higher percentage of backlinks than SEMRush (compared to a site's list of links from GSC) though the most important links will show up on both so it ultimately doesn't matter a ton. A proper tool for competitive analysis is worth a lot though, well worth the time to run through the process I outlined, whichever tool you choose to use. Good luck!
Once you have all the on page criteria sorted and the nav bar fixed and behaving in regards to the viewports. I'd consider a logo top left and look at the page from a user perspective. To cut down on load time maybe simplify the slideshow animations?

There's a lot going on in that slideshow, especially when looked at on mobile.

Lots of info and calls to action flashing by. Does the site need that much?

Pull the site up on your mobile and have a look. Also, give it to a friend/s and see how they navigate around the site without instructions.

Hope that helps.
Or anything else I can help with.

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